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Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The UK General Election & the blame game of deception, deception, deception !

The General Election & the blame game of deception, deception, deception !
6th April 2010

In 1996 under the tories, the jobseeker's allowance came into law & cut benefits to the young and 18 to 24-year-olds automatically got 20 per cent less in benefit, which was designed to replace unemployment benefit and income support.

The current Labour Government promised before gaining power in 1997 & made a pledge to scrap JSA - still to date they have betrayed the unemployed. Before the General Election of 1997 Labour shadow ministers did give clear indications that, if elected, they would tackle some of these issues. They gave assurances that, while it would be difficult to find parliamentary time to significantly change the Jobseekers Act it was most certainly their intention to make “speedy and far reaching reforms to eliminate the worse excesses” arising from it. This Statement was deception, decption, deception - they had no intention of scrapping the JSA act !!

Under old rules in 1995, if their National Insurance contributions where fully paid up, this age group received the same amount of unemployment benefit as other people.
The jobseeker's allowance simply stopped this. These attacks had a widespread impact on young people.

Every day, certain sections of the press and television voice concerns over the apparent lawlessness of young people.
This has led to calls for even more repressive measures against young offenders and for army-type discipline. Yet the link between increased property crime and depressed economic activity is well established. There is also a relationship between unemployment and crime, something that the old Tory / labour government denied. This is, of course, not surprising as the admission of such a link makes both government directly culpable for the subsequent expansion in crime over the decades.

Young people see a government persuing policies which stop them getting jobs and the same government withdrawing their entitlement to unemployment benefit. We should blame the cause, not the effects.

The introduction of the jobseeker's allowance enabled the Tories to become the first government in history to actually abolish the unemployed. There will be no unemployed, only "jobseekers". The old Tory government wanted to get rid of the word "unemployed" and to get rid of all responsibility for reducing unemployment in Britain.
Once again the tories, and this Labour government puts the blame at the door of the individual, saying: "It's your fault you are unemployed. You don't want jobs." But when there are very few real jobs out there, it is meaningless.

The government and the capitalist class which it serves have created unemployment, but blame the unemployed who have no control over their lives when they are thrown out of a job and thrown onto the scrap-heap, lives ruined.

Despite increases in National Insurance contributions over the years, and since the JSA came into law in 1996 - entitlement to contributory benefit for unemployed people has been halved under the JSA from the old 12 months under unemployment benefit to six months. After six months, only the means-tested jobseeker's allowance is payable. Even though you have lost the income from your job, even though you have paid more into the system, some people have been without any benefit at all.

In the first year of jobseeker's allowance in 1996/97, 90,000 claimants lost their entitlement to benefit completely. Because of the harsher rules of jobseeker's allowance and the new attacks facing those on the old incapacity benefit / employment support allowance, tens of thousands of sick and disabled people are being left without any benefit entitlements at all.

Women have be particularly badly hit by the contributory benefit cut-back. A higher proportion of women than men have lost benefit entirely after six months, because they are more likely to have working partners. Not content with cutting benefit, the government also made an unnecessarily strict benefit regime of which the tories brought us, even stricter.

All unemployed people now face a wide range of compulsory measures. Failure to obey these instructions mean benefit being lost for up to four weeks, with the possibility of there being no hardship payment.

An Employment Service officer has the power to give a formal direction at any time that a claimant or as they like to call us "customers", must undertake a specific activity to assist her or him to find employment or to improve their so-called employment prospects. Changes meant that the description of people subjected to the procedure moved from being 'Clients' to become 'Jobseekers.' Prior to JSA the Employment Service described unemployed workers who were signing on as clients, the Act imposes the expression jobseeker. Part of the underlying purpose of both the Act and the change of nomenclature is to suggest that the State/Government has no role in job creation and that it is the individual who is responsible for his or her unemployment.

These "new direction" have enable officials to require claimants to improve their employability by, for example, requiring attendance at a course to "improve job-seeking skills or motivation" or by "taking steps to present themselves acceptably to employers" - for example, mean getting a haircut, new clothes, tattoos removed, etc. Failure to carry out a "reasonable" direction have resulted in the loss of two weeks' benefit. To stop benefit under the Act if a claimant does not accept a job offer, no matter how ludicrous, is a clear denial of free choice of employment and that does not address the issue of any unfavourable conditions of work.

Both this government and the tories says that it wants to get rid of the "something-for-nothing" society. Unemployed people have paid for their benefits through taxes and National Insurance contributions, through which workers insure themselves against the loss of income from employment. The benefit they receive is paid for, and is not a handout.

It cannot be denied that whatever method of counting is used there are more people seeking work than there are job opportunities. The massive discrepancy between those two facts alone means that millions of people are living in poverty which, at best, is accepted by society and is arguably created by the social system itself. Individuals cannot change society, government can!

Agitate, educate, organise is still the slogan which, if put into practice, can create the conditions for preventing the return of a Tory government. The new government should not be government which appeases big business, fails to democratise the state and ends up attacking the low-paid and poorest sections of society, as happened in 1978-79.That would only pave the way for an even more right-wing Tory government.

Confronted by growing unemployment, France, Germany and Italy amongst others have experienced periods of massive social unrest over the last decade and as a result some gains have been made. It is a lesson that cannot be ignored as the innocent find themselves blamed for the predicament in which they find themselves. With many commentators expecting unemployment to rise, now is not the time to start blaming the victim. People who lose their jobs want help in getting new skills and new paying jobs, not make-work schemes that provide no pay, no prospects and not even any time to search for a new job.

We need a government committed to scrapping the jobseeker's allowance and to the kind of policies that will benefit the vast majority of the people of Britain, which means taking on the powerful, vested interests of big business and the ruling elite. It must, therefore, be a Labour government of a new type - kept on course by a militant mass movement around an alternative economic and political strategy.

Can such a government be achieved, especially when the right wing leaderships of the Labour Party and TUC are striving to abandon left-wing policies and socialist principles and are rushing to embrace Europe and social partnership with big business?

In 2008 the Labour Government drove thousands of people off benefits into ultra low paid work & "work for dole" schemes. The former Unemployment/Pensions Secretary James Purnell unveiled his widely trailed package to "make sure a life on benefits is not an option." The Labour Government wanted to make life on the dole hell - well I've got news for New Labour life on the dole is already hell.

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As proclaimed by the United Nations, I draw your attention to section 21 which states:
• Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment
• Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
• Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary by other means of social protection.

In many respects respects the Jobseekers Allowance, and their application by the Employment Service and Benefits Agency are contrary to both the spirit and the words of the declaration so solemnly signed by the British Government in 1948 and never rescinded.

History indicates that the balance of forces within the labour movement can be changed through debate and struggle. The truth is that there is no alternative to fighting the battle of ideas within the organised working class. Ultra-left and anarchist short cuts are, in reality, a dead end.

Richard Easson Jacques
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